Dancing was Audrey’s obsession from the minute she discovered it as a child. She didn’t have great aspirations to be an actress. No, she wanted to be a dancer and a choreographer. Funny the directions that life takes us.
My parents didn’t expose me to much as a child, nor did the school I attended. But in 5th or 6th grade I had a friend who was a ballerina, and when I saw her dance, I desperately wanted to do that too. It wasn’t just ballet. At her house we would watch music videos (I remember watching Thriller for the first time, there on her floor) and I wanted to do what they did. I wanted ballet, and jazz, and modern dance – whatever it was called, I wanted to do that. I looked up dance classes in the Yellow Pages and settled on one I was interested in. I don’t remember if I called them up or not (I was and always have been extremely anxious about making and receiving phone calls) but my goal was to get into dance class. I even kept a journal documenting everything I did to try to get my parents to let me take classes. Sadly…. they never agreed to it and I never took classes. I let my friend take the spotlight when we would choreograph something for the talent show, and I stood aside wishing I could dance, too.
Cut to my early 20’s. I was working hard when I first arrived in L.A. Night and day, weekends, everything. I was background on so many shows and films that I couldn’t even name them all for you (but I did keep a journal of each one, with time worked and amount paid – to make sure they paid me, and so that I could tell my parents where to look for me on TV!). After my stand-in gig on Buffy, I took a break and went on unemployment. It was at that time I began taking ballet classes, three times a week, at the Westside School of Ballet. Part of my inspiration at that time was actually Audrey. I had seen the 2000 TV biopic about her life and thought, she deserves better. So I started writing something of my own. I spent a LOT of time on it, and decided that if I wanted to play Audrey myself, I would have to start those dance classes. So I did. At some point I even joined the adult pointe class (where my teacher would make fun of my “skinny fat” and I would try hard to suck it in). I continued there off and on for several years, and then tried out a couple schools in Paris, when I moved there. Life got in the way and I stopped for a long time, until I moved to Pasadena recently, and found a place nearby and decided to start it up again. I thought I would like to once again join the pointe class, but felt I had to build up strength and re-learn a lot. My attendance was inconsistent, but with my renewed determination to play Audrey, the real possibility of this dream coming true… I’ve recommitted. And yesterday, for the first time in about a decade – I put those pointe shoes back on.
It wasn’t bad! I had to stuff some extra tissues in there at one point, and definitely was worn out around the 50 minute point, but I survived and did almost all of the exercises. I decided when I came home to order some new toe protectors, however, since mine were old and sticking together. So I hopped onto Amazon (and by the way, if you go to smile.amazon.com you can choose a charity that your purchases can benefit. I contribute to the Malala Fund, personally) and ordered some more. Then decided to get even more serious and ordered this thing:
And a stretching strap, to help me with those splits (which I still can’t do). It’s unlikely that I would get to the level of skill Audrey had by the time she was dancing in London revues, but I’m going to work as hard as I can. I’ve even started looking up dance classes across Europe, for the road trip I might be taking over the summer. I’m pleasantly surprised to find that classes are cheaper practically EVERYwhere – why on earth am I in L.A.?! I struggled to find a class costing less than $20 here, the one I’m in now is $16 (with discounts if you buy a pass for 5 or 10 classes). It adds up.
Anyway! I’ll be headed to the barre 2-3 times a week (and in between, I’ve got my ballroom dancing, salsa, and belly dancing, because I love ALL dance!!!) and now I’ll be dancing en pointe. It’s about time. It’s amazing how wonderful dancing makes me feel. I think when you neglect an activity you love for long enough, you forget how fulfilling it is. I actually feel the same about acting, because I go so long in between actual roles with character development and lines that I think to myself, “why am I pursuing this? The pursuing is miserable, I’m not happy.” And then when I get to act, I’m reminded of what it is I’m pursuing. Anyway, that’s another conversation all together! I just wanted to share my dance accomplishment today. I’m very proud to have survived my first pointe class in ages. The pain I’m feeling today makes me very, very happy.